1968 began a major legislative effort by scientists to bring knowledge of our environment to bear on procedures and regulations that could staunch the unnecessary outpouring of industrial, municipal and domestic waste into the air we breathe, the water we drink and swim in, the water wells we pump from and the soil in which we grow our food.
Between 1972 and 1980, Congress passed a safety net of environmental laws which adequately protected every medium of our environment. They spawned an environmental improvement and protection program during the ensuing two decades that has become the most successful grass roots, self-improvement program in our nations history. Today the United States enjoys the cleanest environment in its history, and by any measure, the best in the world.
The air in every major city in America has improved more than 100% as every contaminant such a sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, lead, turbidity and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have declined dramatically and continue to do so.
Most of our rivers and streams are fishable and swimmable. The Cuyahoga River, near Cleveland, which caught fire in June of 1968, now abounds with pleasure boats and fishing boats. Likewise, the Hudson River in New York State, a veritable sewer in the 1970s, is clean and beautiful again.
You do not often read or hear this great American success story because the environmental movement has been co-opted by left leaning organizations and media. It is now controlled by individuals and groups with hidden agendas that barely involve our air, water and soil. These people use the environmental concerns of the public to oppose capitalism, suppress individual rights, and enlarge government.
Their willing co-conspirators are the news media, which has long known that bad news sells best, and the major environmental advocacy groups who package and sell fear to a willing public, apparently wired genetically to believe in the worst outcomes.
Our technology is constantly able to measure ever smaller concentrations of contaminants in our air and water without explaining the virtual lack of impact such small concentrations have on human health. Fifty years ago we were lucky to measure contaminants in parts per million (ppm). Now we regularly measure everything in parts per trillion (ppt, a millionth of a millionth) which is the equivalent of one second in 32,000 years. Such concentrations are insignificant to our health regardless of the chemical of concern.
A short list of environmental myths would include conventional wisdom on the impact of global warming, ozone holes, radon, asbestos, electric transmission towers, cell phones, arsenic, nitrates, nuclear power, pesticides, fertilizers, and wood preservatives to name but a few. That is not to say that everything and anything can not become dangerous at high enough concentrations, because they can, but not at the levels commonly set for us by the federal government or fear-mongered to us by environmental advocacy groups.
The battle against overzealous environmentalism will never end, and we may not win, but we must persist in attempting to convince all those in our sphere of influence that the preachers of doom and gloom are wrong. They have never been right and never will be because their message is based on political agendas rather than sound science.
Just as Y2K and every other scare in your lifetime proved a fraud, so too will next years scare du jour likely be a contrived falsehood. But if we all come to our common senses and have the courage of our logical convictions and a simple grasp of the basic scientific facts presented in this brief article, we can one day prevail. There are so many constructive accomplishments that can be gained with the use of public energies and public monies to solve real societal problems. It is a shame to waste these resources on the fraudulent fears foisted upon us by those with a hidden agenda.